Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Reviews

My brother Carl periodically posts reviews of books that he's read or is reading on his blog. I liked the idea and, needing a break from GRE studying, wrote down a list of the books that I've read since the mission. So, for whatever it's worth...


++=Highly Recommend

Winter/Spring 08

1984++ : First Book after the mission, very impactful.

The Brothers Karamazov++: Worth the time it takes to get through it

Faust: Rushed through it for class, plan on going back

Secret Garden++: Fun children’s book, but also contains mature social and philosophical commentary that’s presented in a way understandable to children.

Screwtape Letters+: A small, easily digestable book. Worth the two hours.

Mere Christianity: A little legalistic at times.

Prince Caspain: Not as much philosophical commentary as its predecessor. Cute children’s story.

Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe+: A good,powerful read, but overrated in the LDS community.

The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power++: Quinn’s a little polemical at times, but fills in historical gaps that ultimately needed filling.

Things Fall Apart: African fiction. Good insights into pre-colonial African culture.

Summer 08:

The Sword and the Shield++: Creepy history of the Russian KGB, based on the Mitrokhin archives. Some paranoia’s are justified.

From Beirut to Jerusalem+: Very entertaining (if that's the word to use) history of the Lebanese Civil War. Makes you feel like you’re experiencing it.

We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families+: Very moving, smallish book about the Rwandan genocide. Contains primary research and is very personal.

Fall 08:

Herzog +: A little technical, but an excellent repudiation of the “cult of experience” (i.e. substance of life is found in traveling the world, earning degrees, being cosmopolitan, etc.) of today’s world.

Ethan Frome: One of those depressing, everything-is-pointless books.

Here I Stand+: Excellent biography of Martin Luther, sparked off a one-year running interest in the man.

History of Joseph Smith by His Mother: I guess it’s pseudo-obligatory for LDS readers, but I personally didn’t find it very entertaining.

Winter 09:

The Tragedy of Great Power Conflict: Very educational/interesting (but I’m a polisci nerd, so treat my opinion with caution).

Man, the State,and War: International conflict theory, very boring.

Suicide Terrorism: Interesting, but could have summarized book’s findings in two pages.

Believing Christ++: Straightens out some theological misconceptions that need to be straightened out in the LDS community. Should be required reading in the BYU religion department.

Utilitarianism: Boring, but came the closest to justifying a godless social system that I’ve seen.

Equality by Default+: Accurate summation of the flaws in postmodernism.

Spring/Summer 09:

The Gift of Asher Lev: Potok Lost his touch in the 80's.

Crisis: Transcripts of diplomatic phone conversations during Yom Kippur war and the pullout from Vietnam. Entertaining firsthand look into the world of fast-paced, international diplomacy, but a little repetitive.

God in the underground++: One of my favorite books. Autobiographical account of priest imprisoned in the communist prisons for 15 years; the most powerful religious book outside of scripture that I’ve read.

A Response to the Moscow Atheists+: Written by the author of above. Very on-the-spot arguments against the USSR's atheist ideology, smuggled into Russia during the cold-war.

Philosophy and Social Hope: A little less technical, attempted validation of liberal precepts in the shadow of the death of God.

Irony, Contingency, and Solidarity. Technical philosophical work read for honors thesis.

Take Care of Freedom and the truth will take care of itself. Ditto.


Mary said...

I think I've read 10 of these books, mostly the C.S. Lewis ones and a couple of others. Some of the books look really interesting, although a little depressing. Which one would you say has the most positive or hopeful message?

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the short reviews. I'll have to check out Believing Christ, I've heard lots of good things about it.

Ruth said...